While protecting your home and family are certainly the most important preparations you can make, you can also take steps to prepare and protect your landscape.
1. Plan your landscape with storms in mind.
Living on Long Island means that you live with hurricanes. As you plan and design your landscape, keep in mind that there is no way to completely protect your landscape from storms. However, there are some things you can do to minimize the damage if a storm strikes.
The "Right Plant, Right Place" principle is key to success. Recent post-storm evidence indicates that native trees and shrubs with even-spaced, spreading branches, low centers of gravity and strong, deep penetrating root systems fare best in hurricane-force winds.
In addition to wind tolerance, flooding tolerance and local storm-surge potential must also be taken into consideration. These factors will vary based on your location. If your neighborhood is prone to inland flooding or portions of your yard collect water during heavy periods of rain, plan your landscape with this in mind and choose flood-tolerant species. If you live close to the coast, know the potential for storm surge in your neighborhood. Storm surge brings large amounts of salt water inland. This salt water can have a major impact on landscape plants. There are many salt-tolerant species that can be used to minimize post-storm salt mortality. We at Environmental will design your landscape using Storm Wise plant selections.
While planning a Storm Wise landscape, it is also important to know the mature size of trees and shrubs to avoid future conflicts with fences, building and power lines. Mature tree height is extremely important to consider under power lines. When trees are allowed to grow into power lines, they pose a year-round maintenance issue for the power company and increase the chances that your power service may be interrupted for an extended period after a storm event.
While planning and evaluating your Storm Wise landscape, we will recommend what will also be necessary to remove or phase out problem tree species in your design. Some species have extremely low wind tolerance and/or shallow root systems and should not be planted in storm-prone areas.
2. Perform proper maintenance before hurricane season starts.
Homeowners who have selected suitable plants, placed them properly and encouraged healthy root systems will have little to do to prepare their landscape for hurricane season. Landscapes are more likely to survive a major storm intact if they are maintained throughout the year. This includes routine trimming of shrubs as well as removal of dead limbs and those located too close to a fence, house or a utility line.
We will periodically check your landscape throughout the year, cutting back trees and weak branches that could contact buildings. Assess the shape of your trees and shrubs and envision what they should look like before we begin pruning. Regardless of the species, you should regularly thin foliage so that wind can flow freely through the branches of trees and shrubs, decreasing the chance that they will be uprooted in strong winds. This selective pruning routine should start when the tree is young in order to encourage a well-shaped, wind hardy form.
In addition to the canopy, it is also important to keep the root systems of your trees healthy to prevent unnecessary storm damage. Over-watering and over-fertilization can lead to weak grown and shallow root systems that easily "pop-up" in wind events, especially if the soil is saturated. Encourage deep root systems by following the Water Wise principles, watering only when needed and fertilizing sparingly.
We have comprised a list of plant species that performed so poorly in recent storms that we will carefully reconsider their place in your landscape. It is not recommended that you plant them as part of a Storm Wise landscape. If these species are already part of your landscape, you may want to consider removing them and replacing them with something that is storm hardy.
3. Evaluate your landscape carefully post-storm.
Don't make any hasty landscaping decisions immediately following the storm. The damage to your landscape may look sever in the wake of the storm, but wind-whipped trees and shrubs often look dramatically improved in just a matter of months. You may decide later that the damage was not as severe as you thought.
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